5 min read

Are Trade Shows Still Worth It?

Let’s be honest, most business owners are excited by the prospect of attending an international trade show but very few are familiar with the actual benefits involved. It’s true, trade shows are most often fun and vibrant occasions but at the same time, recent studies suggest that most businesses make little preparation for what is usually a significant investment of time, money and resources.

With this in mind, it would seem that most businesses miss out on the true potential of these trade shows and for many more, the return on investment is simply not worth the effort. That being said, every business and circumstance is different and trade shows are still highly relevant for good reason.

Let’s take a closer look what trade shows have to offer and whether the return is worth the investment:

The Fantastic Benefits of Attending International Trade Shows

International trade shows have been around a very long time and the truth is, they continue to offer some very enticing benefits to the right companies. In fact, for large corporations with significant financial power, attending these trade shows is routine and expected throughout the year.

But what’s the attraction of international trade shows?

Well, trade shows enable companies to demonstrate their products in person and gain valuable contacts with influential people in high places. That is to say, many visitors at these shows are those with buying authority and this is precisely the type of people who can make things happen.

On the other hand, international trade shows are great for up-skilling employees, checking out the competition and collecting leads with the intention of following up after the show. As if that’s not enough, having a presence at one of these shows can improve brand recognition and awareness.

But that’s just part of the story…..

Measuring Success – The Problem for Most Businesses at Trade Shows

As already mentioned, most businesses fail to set objectives for these occasions and needless to say, this drastically reduces the return on investment. Similarly, when a business fails to apply any form of measurement after these shows, there is no way for the business to know what was achieved through the experience.

In fact, recent studies have shown how 76% of exhibitors have no specific objective when attending trade shows and what’s more, 80% of these businesses perform zero target-market research prior to the show. That is to say, it’s essential for exhibitors to get into the minds and behaviors of those in attendance but it would seem that most business fail to realize the importance of this research.

Simply put, most people seem to be good at recognizing the importance of international trade shows but then oblivious in terms of how they should prepare or benefit from them. The truth is, it can take several months to prepare for a trade show and whether this relates to the number of leads gathered or gaining traction with certain companies, these objectives need to be known a long time in advance.

Moral of the story: Benefiting from an international trade show requires months of preparation and lack of return can mean that attending these trade show might not be such a good idea.

When Attending International Trade Shows Might Not Make Sense

If it’s true that trade shows are considered an investment, there needs to be an identifiable return for attending one. While there’s sure to be a degree of fun and learning involved, this investment should yield a lot more than tips and tricks or useful contacts in the same industry.

Now, that’s not to say trade shows are to be avoided but rather that depending on the circumstances, it may or may not offer enough return on investment for certain businesses. As you may know, this is also why many business owners opt to meet and interact with distributors on B2B platforms like Tradesnest the process is much faster and a infinitely less expensive!

In case you might be asking yourself, international trade shows are incredibly expensive affairs. You can spend months preparing for the event which requires time and resources but then the actual costs involved are just as significant. For example, renting a display can cost several thousand dollars and this comes before any branding or logistics. What’s more, flights, transport, hotels and staffing all come with a high price tag and when it comes to places like the United States, Germany, China, France and Dubai, the average cost of attending an international trade show is $35,000.

As you know, this is merely some of the “costs” involved but the most important calculation will come afterward. That is to say, you need to gather leads and agreements at an international trade show but then also follow these up in such a way that they provide a financial return for the business.


Attending international trade shows has its benefits and this is certainly true for large companies which have the right skill-set to achieve a sufficient return on investment. However, more than 25% of businesses feel there is no alternative to trade shows other than flying to see distributors face to face. As already mentioned, this is simply not true and while trade shows are certainly better than flying to see distributors, B2B platforms offer a much more affordable way to meet the same distributors.

Finally, there’s a stark contrast between attending an exhibition in the local area and taking time away from the business for an international trade show. After all, if you happen to find a trade show relative to your niche in the local area, it would make perfect sense to attend and see what the event has to offer. On the other hand, if the business is strapped for cash, splashing out on an international trade show is little more than an unnecessary burden.

What trade show did you have in mind? At Tradesnest, we might have a more cost-effective alternative for putting you in touch with the right people!